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Norfolk Group

A Blueprint for a Serious Investigation

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On 4 October 2020, The Great Barrington Declaration was signed by a number of scholars willing to ask questions about the pandemic management approach which was fostered around the world, the one based upon real-time mass testing, contact tracing, lockdowns, and waiting for vaccination for all. 

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 

Another pandemic management approach is possible, The Great Barrington Declaration claims, one based upon protection of high-risk people and respectful of fundamental rights including free consent to medical treatment.

Drawing upon this alternative view, The Norfolk Group working independently with the support of Brownstone Institute developed a comprehensive review of critical issues to be addressed in view to assess pandemic management as it was conducted in 2020-21 and as it may be conducted next time. Here’s their list:

  1. Protecting High Risk [People]
  2. Infection Acquired Immunity
  3. School Closures
  4. Collateral Lockdown Harms
  5. Public Health Data and Risk Communication
  6. Epidemiologic Modeling
  7. Therapeutics and Clinical Interventions
  8. Vaccines
  9. Testing and Contact Tracing
  10. Masks 

Targeted Protection

Since Springtime 2020 at the latest, it was known that “COVID-19 does not harm all people equally. Age is the single most important risk factor in predicting hospitalization or death from SARS-CoV-2 infection, with more than a thousand-fold higher risk of poor outcomes for older people relative to young children,” The Norfolk Group writes.

Natural Immunity

At the same time, “without durable infection-acquired immunity, herd immunity cannot be reached, there would be no effective vaccines, and high-risk individuals would have to be sheltered forever unless the virus was eradicated. However, evidence existed early on that prior infection conferred durable protective immunity in the case of SARS-CoV2, meaning that efforts should have been aimed at protecting high-risk individuals until sufficient immunity could be reached in the population through a combination of infection-acquired and vaccine-acquired immunity.” (The Norfolk Group)

An alternative strategy was then possible and even suitable, one based upon targeted protection and respectful of fundamental rights including free consent to medical treatment.

Lockdowns

”The collateral damage associated with pandemic lockdown policies is enormous, cutting across multiple areas of physical and mental health, education, culture, religion, the economy, and the social fabric of society.” (The Norfolk Group)

Misleading numbers

”Without reliable disease surveillance data, public health agencies, politicians, scientists, and the public are operating blindly. For influenza, salmonella, e.coli and dozens of other infectious diseases, the CDC has reliable disease surveillance systems in place. For COVID-19, there was a profound lack of reliable and unbiased data, even after the first few confusing months of the pandemic. The lack of accurate data persists to this day” (The Norfolk Group).

Misleading numbers drive unhealthy public policies:

Accounting for Pandemic: Better Numbers for Management and Policy” Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, vol. 11, no. 3, 2021, pp. 277-291. 

Epidemiological Modeling 

“Throughout the pandemic, policy makers from local levels (county and state health officials, school boards, and governors) to national and federal levels such as CDC directors and White House officials, relied on modeling to guide decisions. […] When using models to make public-health policy decisions, it is crucial that politicians, policy makers, and public health officials clearly understand data weaknesses, underlying assumptions used to generate models and forecasts, the nature of input parameters, and uncertainties inherent in any model” (The Norfolk Group).

Again, misleading numbers drive unhealthy public policies

Accounting for Pandemic: Better Numbers for Management and Policy” Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, vol. 11, no. 3, 2021, pp. 277-291. 

Therapeutics and Clinical Interventions

”Since it quickly became evident that SARS-CoV2 spread rapidly and could not be eradicated, it was critically important to promptly find treatments to minimize mortality and reduce hospitalizations. Because developing new pharmaceutical drugs from scratch is a lengthy and expensive process, it was important to quickly evaluate existing drugs to see if they could be repurposed as COVID-19 treatments. In addition, the clinical medicine community urgently needed data and guidance concerning costs and benefits of proposed and widely used treatments” (The Norfolk Group).

Vaccines came late (how could it be otherwise) and were not the only solution, The Norfolk Group claims. Doctors should not have been prevented but supported in providing their best efforts with existing remedies, The Norfolk Group argues…

Vaccines

“Vaccination policies were some of the most divisive elements of the pandemic, engendering protests at various times and termination of employment for some professions or government employees over their refusal to get vaccinated. Because mandates were initially based on the assumption that vaccines were capable of halting transmission.” (The Norfolk Group).

An alternative vaccination strategy was possible and even suitable:

How pandemic management maximises spending,” February 7, 2022, Linkedin Blog

Testing and Contact Tracing

”As early as February 2020, public health agencies emphasized testing in combination with contact tracing as interventions to suppress COVID-19 spread. To the extent that this was a policy position, large-scale rapid testing was needed. When it became clear COVID-19 could not be eradicated, testing was still important to guide treatment and to protect those who were at high risk of severe disease. However, testing continued to be used and recommended for the general population, including in very low-risk children, without evidence of individual or community-wide benefit from doing so. Positive tests forced children to miss school and adults to miss work without evidence of these strategies effectively decreasing community transmission or benefiting the health of the community.” (The Norfolk Group).

Mass testing (and contact tracing) was the fatal conceit behind the pandemic management of 2020-21:

Mass testing: The Fatal Conceit, Brownstone Institute, Mass Testing, 20 April 2022.

Masks

“Public mask use was rare in the United States before the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 3, 2020, the CDC began recommending face coverings, including both cloth and surgical masks, for everyone two years old and up. The CDC cited no evidence for the efficacy of masks and the previous lack of evidence on efficacy of mask wearing for other respiratory viruses was ignored or distorted. During the pandemic, universal and school-masking became increasingly controversial and polarized” (The Norfolk Group).

The Norfolk Group’s document titled ‘QUESTIONS FOR A COVID-19 COMMISSION’ is available here.



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